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XRL Topside (Express-Rail-Link) West Kowloon Station

S16 Planning and S17 Review Application - major relaxation of building height restriction for commercial and office buildings. 

Sun Hung Kai Properties won the record bidding tender then, for the plot above West Kowloon Terminus and seeks to bring transformational improvements to the previously approved scheme which was dated 10 years ago. 

The site is a unique and have set a new precedent in terms of planning in Hong Kong for various reasons. First, it is a unique and major site in Hong Kong, the XRL forms part of the major territorial development and planning strategy, and it is both an internatioanl and regional transport hub consisting of four major railways: Airport Express, Tuen Ma Line, Tung Chung Line, and XRL.  Second, the site is zoned as a Comprehensive Development Area which is intended to be an important office and commercial expansion of the CBD to enhance Hong Kong’s competitive advantage. The planning application is for building relaxation, and under the Remarks of the OZP is "Clause (8)", which provides more than a minor relaxation, and it is the only site in Hong Kong with such clause.  


The planning application was rejected by the Metro Planning Committee (MPC) in early 2021. However, based on the meeting minutes and rejection reason, the MPC members provided constructive criticisim and comments which Masterplan saw an opporunity to improve the s.16 Scheme. Therefore, a s.17 review application was later submitted. The multidisciplinary design and planning team went through rigorous process to improve the scheme based on comments from MPC members, and to protect the existing ridgeline as viewed from Pier 7. The Revised Scheme was finally approved with conditions in August 2021, after a 4-hour hearing at the Town Planning Board (TPB). 

Masterplan Ltd has been involved throughout the design development, planning review application process as  the lead planning consultant. The Application Site is located at the West Kowloon Station (WKS) of the Express Rail Link (XRL). Part of the site is already developed for the WKS. This application is only for a proposed development in the Topside Development Zone, located alongside the WKS.

The Proposed Scheme act as a social and physical connector, linking the traditional parts of Yau Tsim Mong with the new West Kowloon. Encouraging pedestrian movments from the old neighbourhood to the Harbour Front and the future West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD)  will complete the “missing piece of the puzzle” of West Kowloon. It is also a destination with innovative and sustainable designs that offer wide-ranging spaces for public enjoyments. The highlights of the scheme mainly compose of the major north-south pedestrian walkway which is 1.5km long in total including some existing landscape decks (largely opened 24hours), the 100,000 sq ft of total open space, retail and office floors, public viewing decks, and roof garden.

The site imposes various restrictions due to existing structure and foundations of the West Kowloon Station along with several footbridges which severely limits design options.  As a Scheme was Approved in 2010, much of the Proposed Scheme focused on improving the limitations of the Approved Scheme , and to create an urban centre to better fit the current context which has changed drastically. 

Considerations in sustainability, pedestrianisation, placemaking, and post-COVID-19 design measures were heavily incorporated to ensure that the proposed development is suitable for the health and well-being of future users of all types.
The Proposed Scheme is also better suited for the vibrant district that West Kowloon has become that the previously Approved Scheme, where retail and office spaces have greatly increased in demand due to the XRL. Integration with the existing West Kowloon Station is achieved by articulate architectural and landscape design. 
During the consultation period of the application, Masterplan along with the Applicant and Zaha Hadid Architect presented the Scheme to Harbourfront Commission as it situates within the Harbour-front Areas , and demonstrated how the Proposed Scheme was guided by the relevant Harbour Planning Principles. 

Key Tags: XRL, S16 Planning Application, Relaxation of Building Height Restriction, High-Speed Rail Station, Topside Development, S17 Review Application,  and Relaxation of Building Height Restrictions

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